Next time you think you are being too demanding, too jealous or too “needy” in your relationship, think again. Are any of your feelings and behaviors happening as a result of your partner’s actions?
Perhaps you notice telling yourself over and over again that your relationship is secure, that your partner loves you, that you have nothing to worry about, and yet, you find it hard to relax and feel at ease.
Your partner may have lots of friends of opposite or same sex and truly love them, so you are constantly asking yourself if you are being paranoid when you suspect he/she is not that into you.
You often don’t know how to react and while you don’t want to care that much, you notice that it bothers you more and more. You might come to counselling or talk to a friend wondering if you are being too jealous, too hysterical or too demanding. Sometimes you make scandals, sometimes you sink as low as to checking your partner’s mobile/laptop for any signs of cheating, sometimes you suffer in silence.
In a couple where one is constantly jealous, and the other is not, there seems to be a huge mismatch leading to one person (all too often the jealous one) to believe that they must be the problem in this relationship.
If you are the one thinking you must be the problem, read on, because it is rarely the case that only one person is at fault when it comes to relationship issues. With jealousy though it is common that the weight of the issue is carried on the shoulders of the jealous person.
The person who constantly feels jealous of his/her partner will inevitably go through the cycle of self-blame, partner blame, attempts to ignore the feelings and attempts to understand reasons for them.
So if you are the jealous one, stop here for a moment and ask yourself whether anything your partner does can be possibly contributing to the problem. Are you sometimes made to feel the way you feel?
3 Questions To Ask Yourself If You are suspecting that your partner is partially responsible for your jealousy.
Ask yourself these three questions. If you answer “yes” even to one of them, it is a strong indication of your relationship being in trouble. It is also a strong indicator that there is little you can do alone to change the relationship, unless your partner is willing to acknowledge the issue and commit to work together for change. A conversation with a counsellor or a trusted friend is often helpful, because when we talk to someone we are more likely to notice and hear our responses, rather than let those questions dwindle in our heads, confusing us even further.
1. Does your partner make derogatory comments about your appearance or your actions/values?
Such comments may come in open statements like: “You are fat” or “You are stupid”, but can also present as hidden criticism behind “nice” intentions, for example: “You have to watch what you eat, or you will gain even more weight”.
Why is this wrong? Because these statements cannot possibly come from a loving person, or someone who truly cares about you. Repeated critical remarks are damaging to an individual’s self-esteem and to the relationship in the couple in general. It is hard to feel secure and loved when hearing such remarks, even if they are followed by the “I love you” thing. Even covert criticism gives us a message that we need to do better for our partners to continue to be with us.
2. Does your partner give you and you time together the least priority in his/her schedule?
It is fantastic when your partner has a busy social life, but how often do you notice that you come as a plan B, or the weekend goes to spending time with other mates, or at a party where you are not invited. Not including you and constantly indicating to you that there are others, more interesting people to catch up will very soon make you feel that you are not interesting enough. When a relationship is based on love it goes without saying that people simply want to spend more time together despite busy schedules. If this is not happening in your relationship, this is a red flag to pay attention to!
3. Does your partner share enough with you?
This includes plans for the future, thoughts on one’s mind, common friends and material assets. Does that sharing (or the absence of sharing) make you feel like you two live a life together? The sign of a healthy relationship is willingness to share as much as you can, to make the partnership as close and intimate union as possible. Even when people are not spending much time with each other, the need to touch base every now and then should ever be present. It’s absence strongly indicates a disengagement, distancing of partners from each other, and while it can happen at times, it requires attention and closer look.
So next time you feel jealous or too “needy” and are about to voice some demands, stop yourself and rather think of the questions above. If you answered “No” to all of them, then perhaps you are the one solely responsible for these feelings. If you answered “Yes” to at least one, be sure that some responsibility for that jealousy belongs to your partner and you can both do something about it.
Let your partner know that the critical remarks sound unpleasant. Also acknowledge that distancing from you feels hurtful and threatening. Point out that some priorities seem like you are not very important in the partner’s life. If your partner agrees that these things are of a valid concern and will take them seriously, this is a good sign that she/he is prepared to listen. If your concerns are brushed aside or dismissed as “silly”, that can be another sign of being invalidated and not respected by your partner. In such case it is unlikely for you to achieve a positive change in the relationship.
However if you do come to therapy with a relationship concern, be prepared to take a closer look at yourself.
This would involve exploring ways you tend to relate in a couple and your needs that you expect to fulfil in a couple. Prepare to answer some uncomfortable questions like:
Do you fear abandonment?
Do you tend to stay in a relationship at all costs?
Do feel the need to please others?
Whether you will improve your current relationship or get separated, answering these questions and getting to know yourself better will allow you to build more satisfying relationships in the future.